Building Strong Relationships
In my letter last month, I emphasized the importance of working closely with your ceramist if you want to perfect your preparations and noted that I've spent a great deal of time at my laboratory doing just that. Our November 2019 Cover Story, which explores the modern relationship between the dentist and the dental laboratory, underscores the importance of finding like-minded professionals and optimizing communication in order to deliver conservative restorations with ideal function and esthetics.
One reason that lab technicians can be so helpful in guiding preparation design is because of their knowledge of the materials. And with the seemingly endless choices of potentially confusing materials currently available in dentistry, this has never been more relevant. Did you leave enough room? Should you build in more retention? Ask your technician. Their assistance will enhance the predictability and longevity of the restoration, and their knowledge base can be particularly instrumental in material selection. Because laboratories have different degrees of expertise with different types of materials and restorative protocols, you may want to build relationships with several different laboratories. I have one that specializes in implant-retained full-mouth prosthetics and another that really excels at porcelain veneers.
Regardless of how many laboratory relationships you maintain, excellent communication is the foundation for restorative success, and how you communicate will depend on your protocols, technology, and the needs of each case. Digital dentistry can improve the accuracy and efficiency of both restoration and the communication involved. Using intraoral scans to drive model-less protocols not only saves dentists time and laboratory costs but also provides more complete information. However, technology should not be acquired to leverage these advantages without full consideration of its impact on the practice. If a new device doesn't fit into your protocols, you won't be able to implement it, and then it will only matter if it fits into your closet.
As dentistry evolves, the success of both dentists and technicians will be inherently tied to the quality of their relationships. The accuracy and speed of digital processes threaten the viability of the ceramist who creates high-end, handmade restorations, and with some laboratories now only accepting cases digitally, traditional dentists who use analog protocols may be forced to evolve or be left behind as well. Through strong relationships, both parties can continue to learn from each other collaboratively and evolve alongside the changing expectations of dentistry to meet the challenges of the future.
I hope that you enjoy the rest of the issue. Be sure to check out the highlights from Season 3 of Product Talk. These in-depth peer-to-peer discussions exploring how top-level clinicians really use products are sure to improve your practice.
Robert C. Margeas, DDS
Editor-in-Chief, Inside Dentistry
Private Practice, Des Moines, Iowa
Department of Operative Dentistry
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa